Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Best. Birthday. Ever. Part 2 - The day

After nearly five glorious hours of sleep (you'll see my eyes at various stages of exhaustion in the following pictures), I was up to start RAK day with my two accomplices. 

Before leaving the house I had a "very important" package that had very specific instructions from my dearest friend, Katie (remember her name, it comes up a lot ;] ).  

Me and Katie and the husbands - Donnie and Derek - during a wonderfully fun trip to Portland
Waiting to open it until the accomplices say it's okay (apparently they were accomplices for Katie too!)

And what was my gift that had to be opened before I was allowed to leave the house?  Only the BEST. GIFT. EVER.  Katie, who has known about my 35 RAKs for my 35th birthday longer than anyone else, managed to get 35 friends, family members, and even strangers to do 1 RAK each in my honor - called "The Christina Project".  That's right -  my dream of 35 RAKs became 70!!  Thirteen states and three countries (USA, Cambodia, and Ireland) were RAK'ed for my birthday!
^Inside the box's lid
(The "anthem for the day" was a song I had told Katie gave me the courage to try this RAK adventure:
Matthew West's "Do Something")

I was shocked!  I could not believe that Katie had thought of this AND that family, friends, and strangers loved me and the idea so much they were willing to give their time and, in most cases, their money to help make my 35th birthday even more special.   I am not sure if I was more excited to do my planned RAKs or see who was apart of this wonderful day with me!
The first wrapped RAK I was allowed to open was an "unnumbered" one from a special family that wanted to sponsor one of the RAKs I would complete that day (I had two spots saved, because of my mom's sneakiness, for unknown-until-the-day-of RAKs):
This picture will be explained more at RAK #31 
And with that wonderful surprise we were off! 

My chauffeur for the day
First, being the wonderful daughter that I am ;), I took my mom to her favorite breakfast - donuts!  Although, then she ended up treating me and Brittany!
Thanks, Mom, for the donut!

Sugar coursing through our veins we were ready for our day!
We're SO excited!!
Without further ado, the RAKs:
1. Pay for someone else's coffee
(That lady is about to get her coffee paid for and she doesn't have a clue)
Family RAK 1. Kleenex from the Dowsett (The Sis) and Woods (The Mom) families
(something tells me I'm in for some more tears)
2. Bring my favorite baristas some scones

Family RAK 2. SIL Elisa represented in Hawaii by encouraging another mommy
with a wonderful note left for a stranger

3. Leave a treat for my chiropractor - he's a lifesaver!
(The bottom pix is a blooper when I almost ran my mom over while Ding-Dong-Ditching his house)

Family RAK 3. Jon & Elisa Gaines (and my favorite Hawaiian kiddos!) made a donation to the Children's Miracle Network
4. Leave bubbles around the park for kids to find
A dad caught us and was sweet enough to make sure his boys were allowed to find one.  After we said "Absolutely!", he mentioned how excited his boys would be - "They love bubbles!".
Family RAK 4. The Gaines family (who did three!!) left a Starbucks card for a stranger
5. Bring treats to the librarians who are so kind to my kids 
(She was SHOCKED! See #14. Ha)
Friend RAK 5. Marsha (Katie's lovely mom) treated a soldier and her family to lunch in El Paso, TX
(This one, because of the special place soldiers have in our hearts, had all three of us misty-eyed)
6. Bring treats to Bugsy and Charlotte's vet's office (Aspen has yet to meet them) 
Friend RAK 6. Marsha, along with two of her adorable grandsons, also blessed someone with a coffee in Oregon, where she "spends 1/2 her time"
7. Bring the firemen (who visited our home thanks to faulty detectors) some goodies
(This is one of my favorite pictures because of the story behind it.  The Sis was driving and apparently the way she pulled in made the ever-alert firemen (who were outside washing the engines) drop what they were doing to come check on us; to which Brittany assured them we were fine, I just wanted to deliver something.  Well, while I was explaining why I was there and thanking them for their service, Mom decided to get ready to snap a picture of me handing over the goodies.  To get the perfect shot, she took a step or two backwards.  From my angle I see the fireman behind the one pictured get a concerned look on his face and run off behind me.  I can't figure out what is going on so I turn - thus this picture with the confused looks.  You see, Mom's steps backwards had made her step into the street and the fireman was nervous she hadn't realized and that a car would hit her.  I turn to see a firefighter hovering around my mom, arms outstretched, trying to protect her.  Picture this:
Super sweet of him, hilarious for me and Brittany, and kind of embarrassing for my mom. ;)
Family RAK 7. Auntie Anna, in SoCal, gave a foot massage to a loved one after a long day
8. Fill up the prize/candy machines with quarters
Friend of a friend (although I'm getting to know her) RAK 8. Andrea, who is in Cambodia, gave money to one of her employees who had recently had her bike stolen - to help buy her a new one!
9. Leave 35 pennies for the penny horse ride at King Soopers
I've been without a penny here before, much to youngest's dismay, and a passerby offered one -
 thus, this RAK was born.

Friend RAK 9. Andrea bought 20 sarongs and handed them out to the moms waiting with their sick kids in the hospital where she works in Siem Reap.  SO sweet!
10. Slip a dollar into a Redbox rental case
(Great movie by the way!)
Friend RAK 10. One of my dearest friends, Steph, paid the toll for a driver behind her in Ireland
11. Leave a bag of Twizzlers taped to the Redbox screen
(I was guessing the chances of the Twizzler and the finder of the $1 from #10 being the same person was slim.)
Family RAK 11. SIL Erin not only volunteered at the community dental clinic, but she also slipped a $10 and a sweet, anonymous note into one of the dental care take home bags.  She found out later that the patient who received it really was in need of a pick me up.  Erin accomplished that mission in Edmond, OK!
12. Mail someone I care about a little "Hi"
Anyone who has known me for awhile, knows I used to be good at mailing cards and notes every now and then....not so much anymore.   But I wanted to choose one special person to randomly mail a little something to.
Family RAK 12. My (VERY soon-to-be [as in less than three weeks soon!]) SIL Leah left a sweet note and ice-cold Dr. Pepper for a stranger on a very hot, humid day.  Leah represented herself and my brother Zach all the way from West Virginia.
13. Leave quarters for a carwash
Family RAK 13. Cousin-in-law (that's a thing, right?), Tony, and wife (who was [is] a dear friend before she married into the family), Jaime, paid for the car behind them at Starbucks. Vegas baby!
14. Leave chocolates hidden in the library Barnes and Noble
(The librarian in #5 was so shocked that it threw me off! Ha.  I hurried out of the library and changed this one to Barnes and Noble since we were headed there anyway.)
Friend RAK 14. The Arvidson Family (Katie's sister, hubs, and adorable boys) represented Washington by: meeting a homeless man (Aaron), asking if they could buy him lunch, DOUBLING his order, and then delivering it with kindness and respect. 
15. Leave a gift card hidden in a book at Barnes and Noble
Family RAK 15. SIL Heather (whose two boys are pictured - aren't my nephews adorable?!) bought, assembled, and mailed two special care packages to brighten friends' days. SLC, UT.
16. Leave sidewalk chalk scattered around a (different) playground
Family RAK 16. My MIL, Robin, (who coined the term "The Christina Project" for Katie) so sweetly made and surprise-delivered (30 minutes away!) a huge lunch to an old family friend whose wife is ill.  He ended up not being home, but she left a sweet note so he'd know she stopped by (and so he'd know lunch was in the fridge). Baker, NV
(This one really choked up my mom.)
17. Take a big box of assorted treats to the ER to thank them for taking such wonderful care of the middle one when she broke her arm. (I think they were happy ;).)
Family RAK 17. Robin heard that a friend was having a hard time finding a specific piece of sheet music so she found it and mailed it to her friend to brighten her day.
Finally got my mom to pose for a picture with me in the hospital elevator
18. Leave coloring books and crayons in the Labor and Delivery waiting room
19. Deliver coloring books, crayons, and puzzles to the Children's Ward
Family RAK 18 and 19 -
18. Robin took time out of her busy season to check in on a friend who is fighting cancer.  Robin was able to visit for over an hour (precious time during Robin's busy summer season) and truly believes she "came away the benefactor."
19. FIL, Ron, gave of his time, strength,  and use of his truck to help a widower clear out misc. from his house/yard. 
Before I could treat my mom and sister to lunch, I was instructed to open the other "unnumbered" RAK.  I was SO excited when I found out that several families had pitched in to make one of my "RAK Bucket List" items come true - to leave a $100 tip for a deserving server.
I was a smidgen excited ;)
Thank you SO much: Ron & Robin; Neil, Trina, & son; Aunt Toni; Andre, Heather, & boys; Steve, Bekah, & boys; and Aunt Anna! Because of their generosity, $140 was raised - allowing me to change my #33 RAK with the extra $40!
Enjoying our lunch (and goofing off a bit).  The server overheard it was my birthday and brought us a mini-pizookie to share - it was numms.
20. Leave a generous tip to a deserving server
First, I went in and asked for the manager and explained what my plan was (and asked her to keep it a secret).  I asked her if there was any single parents serving that day.  She said no, so my Plan B was a student that could really use a little extra money.  The manager said that she knew exactly who to put us with.  And she was right - our server was awesome and so sweet. She had recently moved here with her fiancé from Chicago.  Her fiancé was trying to get a business started and she's a student/server.  And, they were in the process of moving to a different apartment that very weekend.  Since we didn't stay, as to not draw attention to ourselves, we didn't see her reaction.  I hope the tip brightened her day as much as she brightened ours!
 Family RAK 20. My wonderful husband, Donnie, collected carts from around the parking lot and returned them into the store (that's going the extra step in returning!) in Fort Collins, CO.
Somehow the picture of me opening this one got deleted from my mom's phone, so this is a make-do one - look how excited I am that he helped with my RAK birthday! ;)
21. Make a donation to Timberline's Food Pantry
Friend of a friend RAK 21. Ginger, Bill, and their lovely family from Virgina did their FIRST RAK in honor of my birthday by leaving a thoughtful gift for their new mailman.  Bill loved the RAK birthday idea so much, he plans to spend his next birthday doing the same thing!  Wahoo!!
22. Leave a gas gift card at the pump
 Friend RAK 22. Katie's Aunt Michelle (whose kids I babysat once, and are now in/headed to college - talk about feeling old, ha!) helped ease a hot Kansas City day by bringing her neighbors some popsicles.
23. Leave coins at a soda machine (looks like my coffee is wearing off ;])
Family RAK 23. Cousin Maegan (representing her husband Patrick and beautiful girls - go Razzleberry pie nights!) delivered frozen water bottles to construction workers in the extreme Las Vegas heat (I lived there enough years to really appreciate this one!)
24. Leave money and laundry detergent at the Laundromat
Family RAK 24. Quite possibly the cutest kids in Fort Collins (not that I'm biased or anything) represented Mommy in our home town by collecting carts and returning them to the store.
25. Leave five dollar bills in random spots in the Dollar Tree
 (one of them was too hard to take a pix of)
Family RAK 25. Fort Collins gets some crazy windstorms and these little cuties went to a local nursery to help with clean up - picking up trees and everything!
26. Hand out cold water for those waiting for the bus
This one didn't get an action picture - it happened too fast since, as my chauffer pulled in, a bus came up right behind her (oops) and I was "gently" instructed to "Get out now!"  ;)  But, I got a much needed walk down the street after handing out waters to two VERY grateful college guys - who even called out "Happy Birthday!" as I was walking away.  :)
Friend of a friend RAK 26. Kelly and her two cutie-pies (who are friends of Katie's) loved the idea of a RAK birthday (see the next Friend RAK to see just how much) and jumped in to help by handing out bubbles to kiddos at her favorite park in Oregon.
27. Leave diapers, wipes, and an encouraging note on a changing table.
(Most mommies have wished for at least one of these once!)
Friend RAK 27. Helping with my RAK birthday inspired Kelly to coordinate her entire family to do NINETY RAKs for her grandma's 90th birthday.  LOVE LOVE LOVE!
28. Donate to a charity
A friend of mine is running with World Vision to help bring clean drinking water to those in Africa who need it most.  As soon as I saw her fundraising link, I knew I wanted to help.  Clean drinking water is something we take for granted every day and something that we must do our best to bring to every person on the planet.  EVERYONE deserves safe water.
Friend RAK 28. Adorable Abbott #2 and his mommy, Katie, bought an entire tray of my FAVORITE coffee and asked the baristas to hand them out to anyone who could use a smile.  On there way they noticed a man who looked like he could use a coffee, asked his order, and delivered it with a smile. -Two RAKs in one!  They were representing Portland and, more importantly, Dutch Bros. Coffee!! 
29. Hand out a blessing bag
We had assembled some the night before and my goal was to hand out one - and I finally got the opportunity late in the afternoon.  I was nervous at first since he wasn't asking for help, but his situation was obvious.  I walked up, explained for my 35th birthday I was handing out gifts, wished him a wonderful day, and walked away.  He was very grateful and sweet and SHOCKED.  We did not take any pictures out of courtesy. 
Friend RAK 29. Sweetie Pie Abbott #1 saw an opportunity to complete a RAK completely on his own at school.  He knew "The Christina Project" was going on and, when no one was sharing with a girl at school, he gave up his own hula hoop just for her.  SO SWEET!
30. Leave a couple "Finders Keepers" around a store
I left two small toys hidden in random spots that a child was likely to find.  I decided to leave them at SAMs because I was worried a grocery store or store like Target may think they actually were merchandise instead of a paid-for gift.  I had hoped to leave them taped to a street sign or something, but it was raining all afternoon and evening.
Friend RAK 30. Patriarch of the Abbott clan, Derek, found $50 in a birthday card slipped into a library book and managed to track the birthday boy down to return it. That's some super sleuth skills!
31. Do something spontaneous for someone today
 Thanks to the Huwe family (see below) I walked into Panera and handed a gift card to the next person in line

 Friend RAK 31. Danielle and Dave and their adorable kiddos wanted to help sponsor my RAK birthday so they sent me this gift card to bless someone with.  I thought it went perfectly with my #31 spontaneous RAK so I saved it until then!

32. Leave a note with a $5 Starbucks gift card on someone's windshield
This one was actually quite hard to do because the parking lot we pulled into had two different people sitting in their cars - watching us like hawks (apparently we looked sketchy).  Finally they each went about their business and I was able to put it on the car we had all decided on.
Friend RAK 32. Katie, and her adorable helpers, delivered 50 flower bouquets to moms in retirement centers on Mother's Day!  FIFTY!
33. Secretly pay for someone else's dinner
This one was more difficult than I thought because I really wanted to "feel it" - which table to pay for - and I was having a hard time.  I actually tried three different times before finally getting it! 
PS If you ever do this, make sure that the money covers the server too - this one got an AWESOME tip!
Friend RAK 33. Katie's friend had just had a baby so Katie baked the new mommy some yummy treats and gave her five babysitting coupons (lucky new mama!).
34. Deliver goodies to Dan
This one was saved until my little cuties were home because they love Dan so much and I knew they wouldn't want to miss out.  Dan, who we met at a church Bible study, is a caring and outgoing single dad whose youngest is just leaving for college.  He always goes out of his way to make our kids and me and Donnie feel so special.
Friend RAK 34. The same new mama in #33 is a professor and did not have a proctor for her class's final exam just days after giving birth.  Katie went in and proctored it so she didn't have to go in with her new baby.
35. Welcome the new neighbors with some homemade treats
I was a little worried they had gone out of town, but they finally returned home and we secretly dropped these off on their doorstep.  They may have suspected us though because ever since we did this they wave at us.  :)
Family RAK 35. The cutest helicopter EMS pilot I've ever seen RAK'ed his medical crew on a flight to Denver by cleaning up all of their equipment and putting it all back into the helicopter for them while they were dropping off the patient.  The AirLife crew was exhausted after helping the patient, so this was a very pleasant surprise for them.
1. Cousin Neil had to switch up his RAK after TWO, separate-trips, failed attempts at helping others with their carts at Costco.  (I guess Neil could look a little threatening......um never.  ;])
2. High School friend, Tamra, tried to buy someone's coffee at her local NYC coffee shop, but the person rejected her attempt.  Then, when she tried harder, the person actually got angry with her!*
*Update: the night of my birthday - RAK day itself - Tamra finally had someone allow her RAK. She sent me a video of a very grateful patron she had paid for.  Nice job, Tam!
It was a wonderful day - better than I could have even imagined thanks you my wonderful family and friends.  Thank you so much to everyone who participated!  For those of you who didn't get the opportunity, do it!  It will change your life!
A special thanks to:
Brittany, for being such a willing and excited participant and for driving us around!
My mom, for supporting me throughout the day!
Katie, I can't believe you thought of this and managed to pull it off.  ;)  Thanks for taking my 35 RAK birthday and making it 70+RAKs.